No matter the time of year, some Guns N’ Roses music can hit the spot.
Whether it’s Appetite For Destruction, some G N’ R Lies, the Use Your Illusion albums, etc., there’s always a song to fit the mood.
I have a childhood friend to thank for getting me into the band’s music back in the late ’80s, which also lead to numerous discussions and disagreements. Ok, some arguments too, like which band was better — Def Leppard or Guns N’ Roses — and which was the superior album — Hysteria or Pyromania vs. Appetite For Destruction — and so on.
It was all in good fun.
Use Your Illusion 1 vs. Use Your Illusion 2
Looking back, I fondly recall a discussion we had where we’d compare Guns N’ Roses’ albums Use Your Illusion 1 and Use Your Illusion 2. Both were great releases, but we agreed that Use Your Illusion 2 was the stronger offering overall.
We also agreed that an amazing single album could have resulted if only the best tracks from each of the Use Your Illusion releases were included. It simply came down to which tracks were most worthy between the two releases.
Two of my essential selections were songs that included the word “illusion” in their lyrics: “Locomotive” and “Don’t Damn Me.” That was purely by coincidence, though my friend would remind me of it, saying I was going for some sort of “illusion” theme with my choices. (We would sometimes have in-depth discussions about song lyrics and their meanings.)
But there were certainly other songs on my proposed single album list: “November Rain,” “Estranged,” “Dead Horse,” “Breakdown,” “Civil War,” and so on.
“Don’t Cry” Versions: Original vs. Alternate Lyrics
We then reached a dilemma: there were two versions of “Don’t Cry” on the Use Your Illusion albums — which one should be chosen?
That’s not to say anything negative about the original version so many people know and love. The alternate lyrics version’s appeal was just more introspective and unique. The fact that it was less known (i.e. not the version released as a single) only added to its allure.
I must admit I was slightly disappointed hearing the alternate lyrics version initially; I expected it to be different musically too, instead of a switch-out of lyrics. But the more I listened to it, the more I appreciated it, and ultimately felt it was the superior version.
I remember how I especially liked how Axl Rose was able to infuse a whole new set of lyrics (not including the chorus, which remained the same) into the song’s existing arrangement, fitting and flowing so well together — most impressively the line “So many feel so lonely with no one left to cry to.”
The song told a whole new story and became even more impactful.
Whereas I was marveling at the song’s structure, my friend also made note of the same lyric, adding that it carried so much more weight than the original version’s lyrics, leaving a meaningful, lasting impression.
That was another great point, and it helped solidify our choice in putting the “Don’t Cry” alternate lyric version on each of our imaginary “Use Your Illusion” single albums.
“If We Could See Tomorrow, What Of Your Plans?”
After our college years, my friend and I moved on with our lives and careers, and drifted apart. (On an unrelated note, so did Guns N’ Roses.)
We hadn’t talked in years, but at least I’d hear sporadic, general updates indirectly through others about how our group of old school friends were doing. A reunion idea was thrown around at times, but it didn’t come to fruition.
As more years passed, as they so quickly do, and thoughts of reunions were distant memories, I received a call telling me my childhood friend had taken his life.
“So Many Seem So Lonely With No One Left To Cry To…”
As difficult as it was to process this tragedy at first, it ultimately took me back to all our music discussions, most notably “Don’t Cry” and its alternate lyrics.
It immediately brought a whole new perspective to the song. The lyrics — simply discussion points originally — became much deeper and more personal, especially that one particular line: “So many seem so lonely with no one left to cry to…”
My interpretation of the entire song permanently changed.
“Don’t You Cry Tonight”
Whether it’s the holiday season or any time of year, please think about those you might not have spoken to in quite awhile.
Reach out, say hello and see how they’re doing.
Why? Just because.
Talk about anything that comes to mind…even an old song lyric that used to strike your fancy.
How nice that would be…
In case you ever need this information for yourself or anyone you know:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7): 1-800-273-8255
- Suicide Prevention Website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- Suicide Prevention Site Online Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/